HAINES CITY –A woman who teaches second grade at a local elementary school now has a new lesson for her students, one about right and wrong, and taken from tough personal experience: what it’s like to go to jail.
Amy Alvarado, 42, of Winter Haven, was arrested and charged with burglary to a dwelling, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and false verification to a pawn broker. Alvarado told deputies she teaches at Eastside Elementary School in Haines City, which the Polk County Sheriff’s Office verified with the Polk County School Board.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said her arrest is a sad example for an educator to be setting for young students who may very well look up to her, and her situation is made even worse, he added, by the fact that she will now be spending the Thanksgiving Day holiday behind bars.
“We are disappointed to learn that Alvarado is a school teacher,” Judd said. “She should have known and followed ‘The Golden Rule.’ She didn’t, so now she may be eating pressed turkey in the Polk County Jail for Thanksgiving.”
The arrest was made on Tuesday, Nov. 20, and Alvarado wasn’t the only one to end up behind bars in this case. Her boyfriend also got charged with burglary and dealing in stolen property, and her adult son, who is now on probation, was also arrested, along with a four man riding with them.
Judd said these four ended up in custody because local neighbors observed their suspicious behavior and reported it to law enforcement.
That eyewitness, Judd said, helped keep neighborhoods safe.
“Thanks to observant neighbors, we got the lead we needed to arrest these thieves,” the sheriff said.
Around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the arrest report notes, Alvarado — who lives at 108 Broad St. in Winter Haven — drove her boyfriend, 30-year-old Brian Fideau of 1603 Eagle Pond Drive in Winter Haven, to the area of Troon Court SE in Winter Haven.
What happened next was witnessed by a neighbor who quickly alerted authorities, noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the case.
“Fideau got out of the front passenger seat, ran into the open garage located at 382 Troon Ct SE, and stole a golf bag filled with clubs valued at over $2,500,” Eleazer noted. “After taking the clubs, Fideau put them into the car and Amy drove away. Amy’s adult son Gerson and a friend of his were in the car at the time.”
The neighbor who watched it happen quickly called the sheriff’s office, and later told deputies that the car had been seen in that community in the past, possibly scoping out the neighborhood. The witness described the car as a tan Cadillac being driving by an adult white woman with a younger white man in the front passenger seat.
A BOLO — Be On the Look Out — alert was issued to local law enforcement, with a description of the car, which was pulled over around 4:30 p.m. that day during a traffic stop made by Southeast District patrol deputies.
Detectives investigating the residential burglary went to the traffic stop and took Alvarado, the driver, and her front seat passenger, Fideau, into custody for an interview. A search of the vehicle also turned up marijuana.
“Post-Miranda, Amy told deputies that after stealing the clubs, they went to several pawn shops in an attempt to sell them, and eventually went to Play It Again Sports in Winter Haven,” Eleazer noted. “Amy took the stolen clubs inside and sold them for $180, signing a form stating that she was the owner of the property.”
The stolen clubs were recovered by deputies at Play It Again Sports, and Alvarado was placed under arrest. It wasn’t her first arrest, Eleazer noted. Alvarado was also arrested last July 2012 on a failure to appear in court charge based on an earlier arrest for driving a motor vehicle after her license has been suspended or revoked.
Fideau denied that he had any involvement whatsoever in this crime, Eleazer noted, but he still got charged with burglary to a dwelling, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, possession of marijuana, and possession of paraphernalia. He, too, has had a past brush with the law, Eleazer said, having been arrested in September for driving with a suspended or revoked license, in April 2011 for criminal mischief, and in August 2010 for battery domestic violence.
Gerson Alvarado, who is Amy Alvarado’s 22-year-old son, was in the car when the theft occurred. Because of that, and because he is also on probation for robbery, he was arrested and charged with violation of probation, as well as possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
He, too, has a prior record that includes arrests in February for driving with a suspended or revoked license; in February 2011 for robbery; and in June 2010 for possession of alcohol by a minor.
There was a fourth person in the car, Marlon Arrindell, 23, who Eleazer said was a friend of Gerson Alvarado. He also got arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
Arrindell had just bonded out of jail the day before, Eleazer noted, after getting arrested by the Winter Haven Police Department on Nov. 17 for petit theft and resisting arrest. He had also gotten arrested by the Haines City Police Department in July 2009 for loitering, trespassing, and criminal mischief, and in January 2009 for cultivation of marijuana.
If it sounds like a car full of folks who ended up right where they belong, Judd said, then the neighbor who called in the theft report deserves credit for making it happen.
The sheriff also advised all Polk County residents to take steps to make it as difficult as possible for thefts like this one to happen.
“We strongly encourage residents to keep their garage doors closed and their property secured,” Judd said. “Criminals are constantly looking for easy opportunities to steal. Let’s not make it easy for them.”
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